Have iPad, will travel

Lawyers line up  to learn about  technology at SBM seminar

By Roberta M. Gubbins
Legal News

It was standing room only in the auditorium on the West Campus of Lansing Community College for MiPad Practice session sponsored by the State Bar of Michigan (SBM). There was a waiting list and they came from as far away as Traverse City and as close as Lansing. Billed as a hands-on session, all those who attending were ready and eager to learn.

“Technology is integral to the practice of law, “ said Julie Fershtman, SBM President, greeting the group. “I commend the SBM and in particular, the Practice Management Resource Center, for having the foresight to plan seminars to help us work with technology.”

Brett Burney, principal of Burney Consultants, was the main speaker. Burney is active in the Mac-using lawyer community, working with lawyers who desire to integrate Macs, iPhones and iPads into their practice.

He began answering the question: Where does the iPad fit into the law practice?

While the iPad, he explained, is not intended to be a complete replacement for a laptop or desktop, which have full keyboards and can run more powerful software, it can be used to create content but is primarily used to read documents, view media and surf the web. It is useful to the lawyer because “it can carry thousands of pages of documents, which can be organized and searched. I found it has taken the place of a pencil and paper for me. I use a stylus with my iPad to write notes which I can then convert to PDF for saving.”

He also likes the shape of the iPad because it can be held in tall or portrait mode to display an entire document. “When you put a document on a wide screen monitor, you cut off half the document,” which causes many people to print out the documents to read.  And, he noted, with the use of apps the reader can highlight text, add notes, and apply comments to documents.

Applications are to the iPad what software is to the laptop and Burney’s recommended list included apps that act as a universal “document viewer” (GoodReader) or read and annotate PDF files (PDF Expert) or handwrite a note (Noteshelf) with a stylus. (Wacom Bamboo Stylus).  If a need to connect with the desktop arises, LogMeIn app (free) can do the job. LawStack (free) provides access to rules and regulations, if law is needed, it can be purchased and added to your stack. Adding Dropbox (free) provides an easy way to link files between computers.

It is, however, in the courtroom where the iPad can shine. The iPad can be used to give a presentation directly from its own screen or it can be “mirrored” out to a TV or projector.  Burney explained how to connect the iPad using a ‘wired’ setup or the wireless method. The wireless method requires the purchase of the Apple TV at a cost of $99.00.  With all in place it is possible for the lawyer to display evidence on the screen in the courtroom and manage all the documents with ease, explained Burney.

The workshop ended with information on the 60iPad Apps, Tips and Tricks presented JoAnn Hathaway and Diane Ebersole, Practice Management Advisors from the SBM Practice Management Resource Center.

The importance of technology to the legal world is evident in the number of articles available on the subject. In today’s paper, we have articles on going paperless in the law office (Paperless, here they come) and the new Michigan Legal Help Website offering free legal information and forms for consumers.

Technology is here to stay and lawyers are lining up to learn about it.

For more information, please visit the Practice Management Resource Center at the State Bar of Michigan website.

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